Developments in instrumentation and computational power, along with access to genome sequences have opened a wide vista of innovative approaches to biological problems. Large scale, system-wide biological analyses can provide completely new insights into cellular functioning. Alternatively, massively parallel analyses of individual cells, proteins or genes can allow selection and analysis of those with desirable properties. High-throughput/high-content approaches therefore not only provide novel biological insights, but also uncover novel drug targets, and provide rapid access to new drugs and catalysts.
The Centre for High-throughput Biology (CHiBi) was established at UBC to capitalize on and contribute to these transformative technologies. With its ultimate complement of nine core researchers from a range of academic disciplines located in a central building, plus many associates, CHiBi serves as a focal point for innovative biological research and training involving high-throughput approaches and will feature a suite of shared state-of-the-art instrumentation and computers overseen by a systems administrator and instrument specialists. To our knowledge the concept of CHiBi as a broadly focused high-throughput biology centre is unique. Such a grouping of like-thinking and complementary researchers located in the midst of biological and physical scientists generates exciting collaborations, create a fertile training environment and lead to both groundbreaking discoveries and patentable outcomes. Note: the term ‘high-throughput’ here refers not only to approaches involving large numbers of samples but also to those that derive very rich information (high-content) such as mass spectrometry-based proteomics and next-generation nucleotide sequencing.
The Centre for High-Throughput Biology is part of the Michael Smith Laboratories (MSL), which consists of approximately 250 research personnel, with research activities falling into four major areas of emphasis in addition to high-throughput biology:
- medical and animal molecular genetics
- statistics, genomics and experimental evolution
- bioengineering and bioanalytical/process technologies
- plant and forestry molecular genetics
There is a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary interaction and overlap of interest among the different groups in the MSL. Awards from prestigious national and international organizations are continually recognizing the faculty members for their excellence. In 1993, Dr. Michael Smith received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
The MSL and CHiBi comprise a diverse group of 22 research and teaching faculty and over 150 graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and research associates.
UBC with over 12,000 faculty and staff plus 8,000 graduate students, has deep research strength across the Applied Sciences, the Life Sciences, the Physical Sciences and Computation, and has formal associations with research hospitals, the British Columbia Cancer Agency, Genome British Columbia, the Genome Sciences Centre, the Centre for Drug Research an Development and the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle. Researchers thus enjoy numerous opportunities for stimulating and productive collaborations.